Jews Leave France to Avoid Anti-Semitist Attacks

France Anti-Semitic Attacks

Jewish emigration from Western Europe reached a record high in 2015. Amidst a rising sense of anti-Semitism and fears of more Islamic State-inspired terror attacks, over 7,000 Jews left France for Israel last year, shooting up from 1,900 only four years ago. Not only is this rate higher than any other place in Europe but also consistent with what, over the last couple of years, has emerged as the largest mass movement of Jews since the founding of Israel in 1948.

“This trend represents a significant challenge to the fabric of Jewish life in Europe and beyond,” said Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett, adding that he views anti-Semitic violence as stemming from “European Muslims born in Europe and educated in European education systems rather than from newly arrived refugees.”

Bennett reportedly offers a briefing on such issues every year, as the government prepares to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.

In 2013, a European Union poll had found that as many as 74 percent of French Jews now fear being attacked on religious grounds. One-third of European Jews admitted to avoiding religious garb or Jewish symbols out of fear while an additional 23 percent refrained from attending Jewish events or visiting Jewish venues. Increasing Muslim migration to France and Islamic State’s call for growing attacks on Jewish citizens in particular seem to have contributed to this fear.

For instance, in Marseilles alone, at least three knife attacks have been carried out on Jews since October 2015 - the most recent one being carried out on 35-year-old teacher Benjamin Amsellem, who used his copy of the Torah to fight off his Islamic State-inspired teenage attacker.

In comparison, Britain clocked the second highest number of Jews leaving for Israel and still the figures were one tenth lower than France, with only 774 departures having been made last year.

Bennett referred to statistics revealing how anti-Semitic attacks in London had increased by as much as 60 percent during the 12-month period ending November 15 and similar assaults had risen by 84 percent during the first quarter of 2015 as compared to the same period the preceding year. Apart from Islamic anti-Semitism, growing support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement also serves as a threat to Jews, since BDS has been gaining momentum across Europe, urging locals to boycott not only Israel but its representatives as well as Jewish events. He explained how the delegitimization of Israel, protests against the Jewish state and allegations that its people are bloodthirsty have further created a slippery slope that lead to attacks against Jews who identify with their homeland.

Only last month, a senior official in Marseilles expressed fear for Jews being attacked, calling on them to stop wearing the kippot in public. Responding to that sentiment, French lawmakers donned skullcaps to express solidarity with the country’s Jewish community. 

“At the same time that Muslim anti-Semitism against Jews is worsening, anti-Semitism seeks new dimensions. Anti-Semitism seeks to quietly find a safe place in academic buildings, under roofs of organizations dealing with alleged human rights, and there is a worsening of incitement and hatred,” Bennett said.

Bennett also shared how there prevails a culture of hostility towards Israel that could make Jewish students feel uncomfortable in and around American campuses. He asserted that approximately 75 percent students attending American universities had witnessed at least one incident of anti-Semitism within the context of activities endorsed by anti-Zionist campus organizations. According to him, Muslim anti-Semitism and the increase of the anti-Islamic far right have been feeding one another as both trends continue to threaten communities across the continent. Bennett also referred to a 2012 survey that had found as many as 40 percent of the respondents from many European countries believe Israel is waging a war of extermination against Palestinians.

Last month, the World Zionist Organization published the results of a survey it had carried out that found 67 percent of Israelis are worried about the lives of Jews living abroad while 83 percent volunteered to invest in absorbing immigrants.

Photo Credits: Truth Revolt

If you like our posts, subscribe to the Atheist Republic newsletter to get exclusive content delivered weekly to your inbox. Also, get the book "Why There is No God" for free.

Click Here to Subscribe

Donating = Loving

Heart Icon

Bringing you atheist articles and building active godless communities takes hundreds of hours and resources each month. If you find any joy or stimulation at Atheist Republic, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.

Or make a one-time donation in any amount.